Defence Of Fort has Group targets after impressive winning debut

Peter Chapple-Hyam has been getting over a bout of influenza and could not have enjoyed a better tonic when Defence Of Fort made an impressive winning debut at Ascot on Saturday.

The Newmarket handler watched the Starspangledbanner colt from his home and is hopeful he will progress into a potential Classic horse next season.

He is no stranger to Classic success, of course. He saddled a Group One winner in his first season at Manton when Dr Devious took the Dewhurst Stakes, then sent out Rodrigo De Triano to win the 2,000 Guineas a month before Dr Devious gave him his first Derby victory.

Chapple-Hyam was also responsible for Frankie Dettori’s first Derby winner when Authorized took the Epsom Classic by five lengths in 2007 and sent out three winners of the Irish 2,000 Guineas.

The 59-year-old hopes that Defence Of Fort will build on his four-and-three-quarter-length success under Jason Watson on debut, having been backed from 33-1 to 12s ahead of the seven-furlong novice event.

“That was a nice tonic,” said Chapple-Hyam, who was being nursed by Sally Hall, his fiancee and owner of the colt.

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“I had a bit of flu – it’s not man flu. I thought it was covid, but had some tests done and it wasn’t. I’m feeling much brighter now.

“I was surprised at his price as he had been working well. I think in time he will be a nice horse and he can only get better.”

Chapple-Hyam is now looking ahead to potential targets that may include the the Group One Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster in the autumn for the flashy chestnut, who was a bargain-buy at the Tattersalls Ireland September Yearling Sales.

“He was 19 grand,” said Chapple-Hyam. “Cormac McCormack and I bought him. He was quite cheap and obviously the dam (Signs And Signals, a Kodiac mare) was nothing special, but I just liked the horse.”

“He couldn’t have done it any better and the time wasn’t too bad,” added Chapple-Hyam. “I actually thought about going for the (Group Three) Solario at Sandown (August 21), but we will wait and see.

“I thought he went really good. Jason (Watson) rode a really nice race. I thought from three out he was never going to get beat. It went perfectly really.

“He showed a bit of greenness in front, but I suppose if I had a long-term target in the back of my head, it is Doncaster at the end of the season. It is not the St Leger!

“He might not be good enough for the race (Vertem Futurity Trophy, October 22), but that is the pipe dream.”

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